Promising debut about a mother’s mysterious disappearance
Maya Rasker’s intriguing and thrilling tale has elicited praise from all quarters. Met onbekende bestemming is, without doubt, one of the best debut novels of the past year. The theme of a wife and mother who suddenly goes missing is treated in a surprising fashion; the book is an extraordinary blend of reality and imagination, fact and fiction. The central fact is the puzzling story of a woman who went out to buy a packet of cigarettes on the evening of her daughter’s sixth birthday and never returned.
This event prompts her husband to reconstruct the life of his wife, Raya, in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. What emerges is an image of a storyteller who has surrounded her life with fabrications and enigmas. Primarily, however, she is someone for whom motherhood is too heavy a burden. For the missing main character, motherhood is synonymous with the complete sacrifice of her own personality. As her husband Gideon once put it, motherhood is a chronic disease.
In a letter to her husband, she writes of her relationship with their daughter: ‘One day she’s supposed to get a little bit bigger and I’m supposed to sweep up the shards of the person I once was. But that day just hasn’t come and I know now that it never will. A mother never regains autonomy; she is never again sovereign’. It is left to Gideon to reconstruct the image of Raya’s autonomous self and fathom the enigma of her aversion to motherhood. The paradoxes, lies and fabrications he unearths create a breathtaking tale in which reality is finally defeated by illusion.